Q. Is it all right for my daughter to drink low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk? Will she still get enough calcium and nutrients?
A. YES, if she's no longer an infant. Whole milk provides the fat needed for brain development during the second year of life (breast milk or infant formula are recommended during the first year). The only thing missing from skim milk is the fat and extra calories.
After age two, skim or 1% milk is actually the preferred choice. However, few children take in enough calcium to maximize their lifetime bone development, so make sure your daughter drinks milk every day.
All milk contains important nutrients, such as calcium, protein, riboflavin and vitamin A. Liquid milk contains added vitamin D, which, when partnered with calcium, helps to ensure proper bone health.
In order to meet the recommended daily calcium guideline of 800 milligrams for children ages 4 to 8 and 1,300 milligrams for 9- to 18-year-olds, 2 to 3 cups of milk per day are advised. If your child has a milk allergy or is lactose intolerant, be sure to substitute soy or rice milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Q. Are there certain foods I can feed my kids to help prevent them from catching a cold or the flu this season?
A. While nutrition can't completely prevent cold and flu viruses from taking hold, research shows that children who eat balanced diets have stronger immune systems and are better able to fight illness. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients and antioxidants that enhance lung function, including vitamins A and C, and the minerals magnesium and potassium. In addition, fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt, whole grains and beans are rich in plant chemicals (also know as phytochemicals) that promote a healthy immune system.
Cold and Flu-Busters
Aim for 2 to 3 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables each day.
Citrus fruits, apricots, 100 percent fruit juice (fortified with vitamin C), broccoli,
carrots, winter squash and pumpkin are rich sources of immunity-boosting nutrients and antioxidants.
For many kids, a daily children’s multivitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea.
Supplements are especially appropriate for children who refuse to eat entire categories of foods.
Make sure your child eats 3 regular meals and 1 to 2 snacks each day, drinks plenty
of fluids and gets adequate rest. As always, encourage kids to wash their hands often and
avoid close contact with children who are ill.